Second Quarter Fundraising Separates Democratic Contenders and Pretenders

Following the first debates last month, polling for the Democratic presidential contenders coalesced around five main candidates.  Former Vice President Joe Biden, Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Kamala Harris (D-CA), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg put some distance between themselves and the rest of the two-dozen strong field.  Monday was Disclosure Day for the field, and sure enough, Biden, Bernie, Buttigieg, Warren, and Harris came out on top of the money race.  Money talks, of course.  Not always on its own, but often in echoes.  With debate requirements tightening in the fall, the second quarter numbers offer the best picture yet as to who will go the furthest and who might be going home the soonest.

Second quarter fundraising by Democratic presidential candidates, as reported by the New York Times and the Federal Elections Commission.

Mayor Pete topped the entire field, with an impressive $24.9 million.  His first-place finish is especially extraordinary, considering the national newcomer out-raised rivals with near-universal name ID, one of whom has been running almost continuously for four years.  Per FiveThirtyEight, Buttigieg also has the second-lowest burn rate in the field, at just under 30%.  This frugality might be a problem, as political candidates typically have to both raise and spend money rapidly.  Buttigieg has been reluctant to staff up in the big states, but he reportedly hopes to hire some 300 staffers by Labor Day.

For the most part, fundraising for the rest of the fab five mirrored their polling, in both position and performance.  Biden’s $22 million was good.  Good enough for second place, and certainly not bad for Biden’s first quarter in the race.  It’s nowhere close to being overwhelming however (see Hillary Clinton’s $45 million from the first quarter of 2015), and indicative that in these early days, Democrats prefer to shop around.

Bernie started strong, but entered a bit of a lull this quarter: $18 million raised, and another $7.6 million transferred, to total the most money on hand.  Sen. Harris’ $11.8 million haul probably would have been higher, had the quarter not ended three days after her breakout debate performance ($3 million since).  The award for Most Improved Player goes to Sen. Warren, whose finance director quit at the end of March.  After a first quarter with just $6 million, Warren raised $19.1 this quarter, even bettering Sanders among small donors.

Candidate “burn rates,” as reported by CNN, where total disbursements is divided by total receipts, for the second quarter.

The news can’t be good for everybody, of course.  No other candidate raised more than Sen. Cory Booker’s $4.5 million this quarter.  Eight others raised $1 million or less, and former Maryland Congressman John Delaney loaned himself $7.75 million.  We’re already at the point in the campaign where that’s a problem.  Eleven candidates spent more than they took in during the second quarter.  Kirsten Gillibrand’s burn rate was highest, at an astronomical 184%.  “Some of these candidates need a miracle,” said Democratic strategist Mathew Littman.  “It’s like if you’re a baseball team and you’re 15 games behind in mid-July, the odds are that you’re not making it to the playoffs.”  Those playoffs, of course, don’t start until Iowa and New Hampshire.  Once the field for the fall debates are announced, however, several teams will surely get a case of wait ‘till next year.

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Robert Martin (CN Staff)

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One thought to “Second Quarter Fundraising Separates Democratic Contenders and Pretenders”

  1. According to the FEC, the left has collected a total of less than 10 million in campaign funds yet they already owe out almost half of that money. The GOP on the other hand have already surpassed the 100 million mark. It’s a sure thing that the right will have big money backing them in this election, more so than in past elections. Reason being is the radical proposals of the left leading to the destruction of the economy. Big oil won’t be siding with them, doctors and hospitals and pharmaceuticals won’t be siding with them. Any wallstreet investor siding with them would be a ludicrous suggestion. The list is huge. Virtually speaking, the left want to introduce the same policies that have destroyed other countries, Venezuela being the latter of them. Anyway, great article.

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